April 14 at 9:00am

Letter carries work to ‘Stamp Out Hunger’

The National Association of Letter Carriers will pick up more than mail on May 10, much to the benefit of food providers for the poor such as Interfaith Community Services.

On that day, letter carriers from more than 1,200 post offices will spread out across the country, collecting food donated by customers as part of the 22nd annual Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Interfaith will be the beneficiary of contributions collected by carriers from the Escondido and Orange Glen post offices. Typically, the drive has brought in nearly 75,000 pounds of food for the ICS pantry. Last year, no bags were provided in which customers could leave food. As a result, just 25,000 pounds were collected.

Jerry Morgan, food and basic needs manager at Interfaith, is optimistic that collections will return to the 75,000-pound level because of a generous donation that has allowed for the purchase of 62,000 bags. They will be distributed in Escondido a few days before the May 10 drive.

Customers are encouraged to fill those bags with nonperishable food that will be delivered to Interfaith.

“The ‘Stamp Out Hunger’ food drive is the single most significant food drive that we have every year,” said Morgan “It is held the second Saturday in May every year, which just so happens to be about the time we start running out of the food we collected during the Christmas holidays.”

That lull in donations is the main reason for setting the food drive on that date, noted Fredric Rolando, president of National Association of Letter Carriers, in a news release about the event. Many school meal programs are also suspended for the summer, leaving millions of children seeking alternate sources of nutrition.

“Summer is usually a slow time of the year for food donations, as schools are closed and people are on vacation,” agreed Morgan.

More than 120 million postcards will be sent to customers across the country to remind them of the drive. Last year’s drive brought in 74.4 million pounds of food nationally, bringing the total collected since the drive began in 1992 to nearly 1.3 billion pounds.

Locally, Interfaith will have its large truck parked at the Orange Glen Post Office as letter carriers return from their rounds May 10 with bags donated by people on their routes. Trucks from the Escondido Post Office will stop by the agency headquarters at 550 W. Washington Ave. to drop off their collections on the way back to their nearby office.

“It is a sight to see when five or six postal trucks are backed up in the parking lot waiting for us to unload,” said Morgan.

Helping with that unloading process this year will be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have pledged to provide all the needed volunteers.